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August 13, 2010

2010-11 Season - Rugged contest goes to China Junior Nationals

Despite facing a China Junior National Team that had four seven-foot players, the Vikings forged a plus-five rebounding advantage in a 53-52 loss. It was the first loss in four games for Augustana in China.

A short jump hook shot by senior Kyle Nelson (Deerfield HS, Deerfield, Ill.) rolled off the rim at the buzzer as Augustana dropped a 53-52 decision to the Chinese National Junior Team at the National Athletic Training Center on Friday, August 13. This contest pitted the Vikings against the top 18-20 year olds in China and it went down to the wire.

In a back-and-forth game, junior Troy Rorer (Bettendorf HS, Bettendorf, Iowa) gave Augustana a 52-50 lead with a steal and a layup with just 30 seconds on the clock. With 10 seconds left to play the Chinese Juniors reclaimed the lead on a conventional three point play to make it 53-52.

The Vikings executed their final play with junior point guard Brian DeSimone (Buffalo Grove HS, Arlington Heights, Ill.) penetrating and getting a critical ball screen from senior Bryant Voiles (Byron HS, Byron, Ill.). DeSimone was challenged by China’s 7’ 2” center and he delivered the ball to Nelson in the paint. Nelson was guarded by a second seven footer and his jump hook failed to fall and Augustana dropped its first game after winning three straight.

“This was exactly what we needed,” said head coach Grey Giovanine. “The China National Junior team was made up of the country’s top 18-20 year olds and had four seven footers on the roster. That was as imposing a front line as any NCAA Division III team is ever going to face. We battled their 2-3 and 1-3-1 zones all game long.”

Augustana led 24-19 at halftime and had to play most of the second half without center Luke Scarlata (Morton HS, Berwyn, Ill.), who left the contest after being elbowed to the ground during a scramble for the ball under the basket.

Voiles led the team in scoring with 17 points and he had four rebounds while Nelson pitched in with 16 points and five rebounds. Brandon Kunz (Lake Zurich HS, Lake Zurich, Ill.) added five steals and DeSimone was credited with six assists.

The China Junior National team shot 28 free throws, making 18 while Augustana was seven of 10 from the charity stripe. Despite the huge height disavantage, the Vikings outrebounded their hosts by five.

“What an incredible experience for our team to compete against one of the best international teams in the world at the same age,” said Giovanine. “We were halfway around the world and clearly facing all the perils that a road team goes through. But, we rose to the occasion and I was extremely proud of the way we played, representing both Augustana and the United States.”

Tomorrow Augustana will face Tsinghai University in Beijing, one of the top 10 university teams in the country.